"David Copperfield. Harry Houdini. Harry Potter. Caterpillar employees. What do they all have in common? They're magical. They can do magical things," announced Michael Coyne-Logan, crew member of Living Lands & Waters, to more than 100 volunteers for the Illinois River Cleanup with Caterpillar in Peoria, Ill.
With the Living Lands & Waters (LL&W) crew, Caterpillar employees, family members and local extracurricular groups combed through the East Peoria side of the Illinois River, picking up more than 2,000 pounds (1 ton) of garbage.
Among the volunteers was a group of about 25 FIRST Robotics members from local high schools. Asit Patel, a Caterpillar employee and volunteer with FIRST Robotics, said they encouraged the students to participate to achieve one of the core values of FIRST: helping others.
"We are volunteers in the FIRST Robotics program and by being a role model we instill in them that it is good to volunteer for whatever cause you believe in and that volunteerism affects positive change within communities you live in," Patel said.
The garbage collected from the bank of the Illinois River in the span of an hour and a half filled a 30-yard dumpster, not including 32 tires. Volunteers collected mostly bottles and Styrofoam, but aluminum drums, a child's electric jeep and an old deer stand were among some of the more interesting finds.
"Initially, my family and I wanted to volunteer at the river cleanup to do something positive for the community that we live in. We really weren't for sure what to expect, however we all ended up having an awesome time! My kids actually said, 'This is fun Dad, why doesn't everyone do this?' The boat ride was a blast and we picked up stuff at the site such as Styrofoam, glass bottles, old kids toys, aluminum cans and even old furniture," said Rob Hampton, Caterpillar employee.
Hampton also coordinated a large group to volunteer from the Advanced Components & Systems Division, which was a successful experience as well.
The Caterpillar Foundation has invested in LL&W for more than a decade, supporting the organizations focus on educating the nation's students, conserving watersheds, cleaning the rivers and planting new trees for conservation efforts.
"The Caterpillar Foundation is proud to support Living Lands & Waters - an organization that strives to educate students about conservation and invest time with volunteers in cleanup efforts throughout the nation," said Jennifer Zammuto, Caterpillar Foundation manager.
Headquartered in East Moline, Ill., Living Lands & Waters is a 501 (c)(3) environmental organization that was established by Chad Pregracke in 1998. Since the organization was founded, Living Lands & Waters has grown to be the only "industrial strength" river cleanup organization like it in the world. Spending up to nine months a year living and traveling on the barge, the Living Lands & Waters' crew hosts river cleanups, watershed conservation initiatives, workshops, tree plantings and other key conservation efforts.
Caterpillar Inc. supports the philanthropic efforts of the Caterpillar Foundation. Founded in 1952, the Caterpillar Foundation has contributed more than $550 million to help make sustainable progress possible around the world by providing program support in the areas of environmental sustainability, access to education and basic human needs. To learn more about the global impact of the Caterpillar Foundation, please visit www.caterpillar.com/foundation.